Tag Archives: Atriplex hortensis

Bloom Day June 2014

Bloom Day on Father’s Day? Really? I figured this out about 7 o’clock last night, but by then I was too sun-blasted to muster a post. Marty wanted his day spent at a local Irish fair. Guinness and “trad” music for him, Irish wolfhounds and sheep herding displays for me. Running late, on to my experiments with herbaceous stuff for a dryish zone 10 Southern California garden. A counter-intuitive direction in the land of palms, agapanthus, and bougainvillea but for now my idea of summer.

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June brought the agastaches. Dark blue in the background is Lavandula multifida.

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Agastache ‘Blue Blazes’ planted last fall 2013

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So now the blue spikes of Plectranthus neochilus have been joined by agastache to make quite an unplanned wash of blue in the corner under the Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea.’

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No complaint from me. A corner of blue isn’t a bad thing on a warm day.
The lavender and catmint ‘Walker’s Low’ is here too.

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Self-sown nicotiana with the plectranthus, leaves of Echium simplex in the foreground.

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Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ is a pale, milky blue. Maybe a little insipid compared to some of the darker blues like Agastache ‘Purple Haze,’ which I neglected to photograph.
But BF has an admirable chunky structure and wonderful leaves. Umbels of Baltic parsley in the lower right.

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Cenolophium denudatum, the Baltic parsley, was started from seed a couple years ago. I think it would be happier in a wetter garden. Stays green and lush but not many flowers.
Maybe I should try it in soups.

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I lifted and split the enormous clump of the grass Chloris virgata and started with smaller divisions last fall. It thickens up fast and does self-sow so no danger in losing it.

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In a small garden, a large pot of cosmos makes for a summer full of daisies. This one has a faint halo of yellow. Cosmos ‘Yellow Garden’

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Pot of cosmos in the background. Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ and digiplexis. There’s some white cleome in here too I didn’t photograph.
For animating a dry summer garden with just two kinds of plants, it’d be hard to beat this gomphrena with grasses.

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Purple orach on the left.

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Seedheads of purple orach, Atriplex hortensis. Wish it did more than very lightly self-sow. The edible orach would no doubt be happier in the rich, moist soil of a vegetable garden.
I once grew a fantastic chartreuse form too but couldn’t get it to reseed. The lower leaves are fed to the parakeets.

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The best umbellifer I’ve found for dry zone 10 is Crithmum maritimum.

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I love the crithmum growing among Eryngium planum

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Dalea purpurea’s first year has been very impressive.

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Tiny blooms on the grass-like Anthericum saundersiae ‘Variegata’ which thrives in the morning sun/afternoon shade in very dry soil under the tetrapanax with bromeliads and aeoniums.

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The kangaroo paws don’t seem as tall this year. Not long-lived anyway, the lack of winter rain may have contributed to smaller size. (‘Yellow Gem’)
More fern-leaf lavender, with Gaillardia ‘Oranges & Lemons’ in the background.

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My garden is really too small for big clumps of rudbeckias, too dry for heleniums. Gaillardias are just right. This one is sunshine on stems.

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Out of three pots of lilies, only the white returned in spring, supported here by the trunk of Euphorbia lambii.

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Pelargonium echinatum has started a new flush of bloom in the mild June weather.

Catch up with other June gardens at May Dreams Gardens.

summer notes

Though I’ve been practicing lots of garden math — some addition but mostly subtraction and a little light division — the garden still seems almost unchanged and very familiar this summer, and I haven’t decided yet if that’s necessarily a good thing. The Amicia zygomeris is back, still robust and healthy. Evergreen in a zone 10 winter. Its purple-stained “pouches” helpfully draw Teucrium hyrcanicum into the conversation. Purple, yellow and soon a few spears of orange crocosmia chattering away in this corner of the garden. Listening in as these conversations develop is the best part of summer. As usual, I want intense, boisterous summer conversation from a very small garden that is expected to have something to say in other seasons too. Easy on supplemental irrigation a must. (That’s not too much to ask, right?) Amicia, from Mexico, is named for Italian astronomer and mathematician Giovanni Battista Amici. I first learned of amicia from one of British gardener/writer Christopher Lloyd’s books. Plant Delights thinks it’s hardy to zone 7. Grew to over 6 feet tall last summer. A unique outline that reads well, a tropical effect without all the “weight” associated with tropical plants. (One of the subtractions this spring was a banana. Even the supposed dwarf varieties grow into giants here.)


Oenothera is a big jolt of yellow. With Bouteloua, the filmy eyebrow grass, and variegated sisyrinchium.
Smattering of sky blue notes from tweedia. Potted Echeveria agavoides ‘Lipstick’


Chartreuse shrub leycesteria seems to have survived a move last fall, leafing out here with self-sown purple orach, Atriplex hortensis. Hoping the leycesteria doesn’t burn here in afternoon sun. Growing in an 8-inch pot, the lily ‘Lankon’ is almost done with its one bloom, so now’s the time for a photo, even a bad one which doesn’t do justice to the speckled, tie-dye petals. This lily made a big splash at Chelsea last year, a hybrid between Lilium longiflorum, which grows well here in Southern California and is the reason I took a chance on it, and Lilium lankongense, which comes from Yunnan in China. Getting it to rebloom next year will be the real trick. Summer dormant bulbs are so much easier in pots, unlike the lily which never truly goes dormant and will need to be kept watered. The garden just isn’t kept moist enough to suit lilies, so they’re grown in pots only — just a few. More and more, by August I balk at caring for containers. I was told by a lily grower at a plant show this spring that these down-turned, martagon-like lilies will never be grown commercially for cut flowers because of the difficulty in shipping them without breakage. That one bloom scented the whole back garden.


The tropicals are gaining size, all plants that have seen quite a few summers in the garden. These two are Colocasia ‘Mojito’ and ‘Diamond Head.’ They are kept dry in their pots outdoors over winter.


Xanthosoma ‘Lime Zinger.’ For an experiment, I kept a small clump watered over winter, not allowing it to go dormant. This large pot was kept dry. Growth in both pots seems about the same. A very tough plant, highly recommended. Will grow enormous when fattened with feeding and lots of water, though does fine treated on the leaner side.


Not much new this year for potted summer plants other than the Tibouchina ‘Gibraltar,’ which I like quite a lot. Very refined for a variegated plant, even without the purple princess flowers.


When euphorbias are good, they are very, very good. Euphorbia characias ‘Silver Swan’ hasn’t missed a beat since last autumn, now becoming engulfed by summer growers — which just might be the end of it. Good air circulation at the base is paramount in my experience. I’ve been thinking about putting the path back in through this big border, which will necessarily scale plants down to about knee-high level again. Planting pathway edges is some of the most satisfying, (grasses, dianthus, Crambe maritima! succulents) but then I’ll lose the depth and space for the really big plants. Maybe this fall I’ll make the change.


Grasses proliferate. There’s probably more grasses than perennials now. Stipa arundinacea/Anemanthele lessoniana grows tawnier by the day.


While getting photos of the euphorb and stipa, I caught the crew heading for the office this morning.


Looking forward to some garden blog reading this Saturday, the LA Kings’ second game in the Stanley Cup tonight, and maybe a cactus show if I make it down to San Diego tomorrow. Feeling a little lazy for a two-hour drive tomorrow, but we’ll see.

Journal February 1, 2011

February is about the time of year when the little reminder notes really start to pile up, when sending a barrage of e-mails to myself seems an inefficient system compared to the search capabilities on my blog, a feature I use constantly. So just a warning that any future posts labeled “Journal” will most likely be scattershot to-do lists, seed orders, and garden musings of a very narrow range, applicable to my little zone 10 garden. Planting ideas I’m working out, etc. Of course, any and all input is more than welcome.

Ready, Evie?


1. Ongoing investigation, no verdict yet, on pairing cannas with the big, winter-blooming salvias, like S. iodantha, wagneriana. The idea is cannas for summer, cut back in fall, when the salvias will take over for late winter/spring. Water, compost, and light needs similar. Looks like S. iodantha just might bloom in February before the Bengal Tiger canna takes off, fingers crossed. It’d be better if these two were further apart, something to consider if the salvia doesn’t bloom. (First salvia bloom noted 2/5/11.)

2. Keep an eye on interplanting kangaroo paws with sedums, grasses, and slim, tap-rooted eryngiums. Not sure if anigozanthos wants to get this chummy. Moved a couple Sedum ‘Frosty Morn’ from too much shade to this sunny spot this morning. Interplanted small cuttings of tansy ‘Isla Gold.’ No more plants here.

2a. Remove some bricks and pavers under pergola for more planting space?


3. Planted Gloriosa rothschildiana at base of grapevine yesterday. Grapevine may be too vigorous. Watch for snails.

4. Dicentra scandens climbing up fatshedera — flowers too subtle for impact here?

5. Water garden research. Would still like to corral summer tropicals in one tank. Get to Echo Park for lotus bloom this year/onion soup at Taix. (‘Michael O’Brien, landscape architect and certified arborist, says that the lotus of Echo Park Lake are not the same as the Egyptian plants and are not water lilies. “Nelumbo nucifera,” he says, “is native to South Asia to Australia and is grown in tropical climates around the world.”)

6. Bulbs from McClure & Zimmerman:
Iris versicolor var. Gerald Darby (thank you, Nan/Hayefield!) Maybe for the water garden?
Gloriosa lily ‘Wine & Red’
Tropaelum tuberosum ‘Ken Aslet’

7. Still need seeds for Ammi visagna. J. L. HUDSON carries it and Atriplex Magenta Magic and Purple Savoyed.
(Ebay has sellers for both too). No self-sown orach coming up yet.
Also need seeds for Celosia argentea. Why does one source never carry all desired seeds?

8. More agapanthus research, maybe ‘Graskop’?

9. Start seeds of Mina lobata. Will it really climb through Verbena bonariensis here and not just for the magicians at Great Dixter?
9a. Geranium harveyi under tetrapanax? — something needed under rice plant’s skirts.

10. Watch germination of Crambe maritima sown 1/30/11.

11. Planted Melianthus ‘Purple Haze’ yesterday deep in the back of the border among the cannas and grasses. Selection of Roger Raiche/Planet Horticulture, the leaves do have a lavender wash to them. Said to be more compact than the species, lower growing.

12. Clean/rake out feather grass in parkway.

13. Both Cotinus coggyria and ‘Grace’ already leafing out. Scilla peruviana under ‘Grace’ in bud by early March last year.

14. Zillions and zillions of Helleborus argutifolius seedlings coming up and not a bit of room left for another plant. In old age, make a garden of this hellebore for winter, agaves/aloes, perovskia and grasses for summer.

15. Dormant tropicals showing growth, tipped pots up and watered lightly yesterday.

16. Tulips almost here!

17. Interplant Aster divaricatus with Scilla peruviana (added 2/5/11)

18. Interplant Allium cernuum with golden carex (added 2/5/11)

19. Belamcanda or Blackberry lily (Growing With Plants 2/5/11)

20. Alliums and wood aster available from Barry Glick/Sunshine Farm & Gardens (ordered 2/12/11)

21. Iris x robusta ‘Dark Aura’ (Plant Delights/Iris City Gardens) – similar to ‘Gerald Darby.’ Best of the xrobustas with dark leaves.


June 2010 Bloom Day

A 2-year-old mossed basket with sedums, agave, and oregano ‘Kent Beauty.’ I was surprised to see the oregano return this year. Life in a mossed basket can be rough.


The urns of arctoctis. Hopefully, the next time I replant the urns will be the day after Thanksgiving, to fill them with tulips. July is not too early to get a tulip order in for the best bulbs!


Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain’ and Libertia peregrinans. This libertia actually is in bloom, tiny and white, but it’s the tawny leaves I’m after.


Crocosmia just budding up, different kinds of forgotten names. Running in ribbons throughout, not in big clumps. I’m always amazed they find their way up and through at all in June.


Continue reading June 2010 Bloom Day

Mergers & Acquisitions

If nature abhors a vacuum, then I am nature’s willing handmaiden. By late May, the garden is stuffed, bursting at the seams like this potted Euphorbia tirucalli.


Echevarias and sedums tucked into every available spot. Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ filling in again after laying low over the winter.


Atriplex hortensis, the purple orach, and Verbena bonariensis dominate the air space.


Yet the plant purchases keep on coming. This summer was to be about downsizing. Fewer pots to maintain and water throughout a very long growing season. The small garden in situ would have to absorb it all. Must have let down my guard because, boy, did I fall off the wagon — fell off it hard, then loaded it up with plants.

I’m still puzzling over what switch flipped that had me racing madly through the nursery, slowing the cart down only for small children and the elderly. For one thing, I never grab a cart. That way lies madness. One must have some rules, however arbitrary, and then stick to them.

The first rule is, only what I can carry with two hands (surprisingly, a lot).

Second rule is, for those moments of extreme weak will, a small hand basket. (Nurseries tend to hide these hand baskets, for obvious reasons, so I’ve often spent up to 20 minutes searching for one.)

There is no third rule, and this just might be the weak link. For that day, there was the second-rule hand basket overflowing with pots, sitting atop the large cart, also overflowing with pots, clearly an unforeseen set of circumstances lying well outside any known rule.

What separated this trip from one of my usual composed, judicious nursery saunters was that it came at the end of Debra Lee Baldwin’s talk at Roger’s Gardens. I’m guessing it has something to do with the “compadres” effect, sitting in solidarity on those bleacher seats with my tribe. Permission to purchase electrified the air. All I know is, after Debra’s talk, the brakes on the wagon were off. I even tossed a couple heucheras on the cart, very uncharacteristic, since I’m not at all a heuchera junkie, but this one has a big, soft leaf, supposedly bred for southern climes. (The best heuchera I ever grew was our native Channel Islands Heuchera maxima, which grew to the size of a zucchini and was often mistaken for one by visitors.)

I never keep a ghetto for new plant purchases. There’s no room, for one thing, so they’d surely expire in some out-of-the-way spot awaiting planting. A planting frenzy always follows a nursery shopping frenzy the very day of, if not morning after, and this planting frenzy had to be the biggest in recent memory. You know that smug, clever feeling when you’ve managed to squeeze in the last impulse buy? Well, it’s fleeting, and there’s always a hangover the next day as you survey your lack of self-control writ large upon the garden.

The spreadsheet (AA denotes a plant from Annie’s Annuals):

Heuchera ‘Southern Comfort’
See note above.

Chrysocephalum apiculatum ‘Flambe Orange’ (2 ea 4-inch pots)’

Teucrium hybrid ‘Fairy Dust’ (2 ea 4-inch pots)

Eryngium tripartitum AA (2 ea 4-inch pots)
Tap-rooted, will take up little space.

Aeonium spathulatum var. cruentum AA
Aeoniums need no justification

Arthropodium cirratum ‘Renga Lily’ AA

Neoregelia ‘Purple Stoly’

Saxifraga stolonifera
Replacing last year’s

Venidium ‘Orange Prince’

Tanacetum niveum AA (2 ea 4-inch pots)
Started this from seed last fall but missed a watering cycle(s)

Euphorbia rigida AA
Euphorbias need no justification

Verbascum bombyciferum ‘Arctic Summer’ AA
Verbascums need no justification

Nicotiana suaveolens AA (2 ea 4-inch pots)
Started N. mutabilis from seed last fall but missed a watering cycle(s).
And nicotianas need no justification

Polygonum orientale, variegated (2 ea 4-inch pots)
Hasn’t prospered for me yet. Third time’s the charm.

Sedum nussbaumerianum was trimmed back just a bit to make room for Euphorbia rigida, etc., etc., until all new acquisitions were merged into the garden.


This weekend were staying miles away from plant nurseries.


Edited spring 3/31/11: Polygonum orientale was spectacular summer 2010. Heuchera ‘Southern Comfort’ made the best of a poor site, showed beautiful new spring growth, and has been moved to better digs. Teucrium ‘Fairy Duster’ amazingly durable. Euphorbia rigida might be my favorite new euphorb. The neoregelia is robust and thriving. Aeonium is now in bloom. The verbascum bloomed well and a new one was brought in. All others mentioned in above list are not around to greet spring 2011 and did nothing to speak of in 2010.